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Smart Voter
San Mateo County, CA November 2, 2004 Election
Measure R
Amend Business License Tax
City of East Palo Alto

Majority Approval Required

2,941 / 75.2% Yes votes ...... 970 / 24.8% No votes

See Also: Index of all Measures

Results as of Dec 15 1:37pm, 100.0% of Precincts Reporting (10/10)
Information shown below: Impartial Analysis | Arguments | Full Text

Shall East Palo Alto's business license tax regulations be amended to create a new category for hazardous waste disposal facilities, and to impose thereon a 10% gross receipts tax, which shall be used for general governmental purposes such as public safety, parks and recreation, street maintenance, senior citizen programs, and central administration, and shall expenditure limitations be modified to permit East Palo Alto to spend such revenues?

Impartial Analysis from Michael S. Lawson, City Attorney, City of East Palo Alto
This measure, if adopted by a simple majority of voters voting on the measure, would accomplish the following:

  • This measure would create a new classification for 'Hazardous Waste Disposal Facilities' and require such facilities to pay a business license tax of 10% of gross receipts; and

  • This measure would apply to a business which treats, stores, recycles, or disposes of hazardous waste at a facility in East Palo Alto.

Hazardous waste disposal facilities are currently classified as manufacturing or processing enterprises under the City's business license tax regulations, paying $1.00 for every $1,000 of gross receipts up to $10 million and $.50 for every $1,000 over $10 million. Approximately 11 businesses in East Palo Alto are classified as manufacturers or processors.

At the present time only one business would be affected by this measure, but it would apply to any similar business or facility permitted to dispose of hazardous waste.

The revenue from this measure would go into the City's General Fund, which means such revenue could be used for any municipal purpose, as determined by the city council, such as public safety or law enforcement, parks, recreation, streets, administration, and the like.

An administrative appeal procedure is available to challenge the tax determined in any particular case.

If adopted, this measure would go into effect immediately.

/s/ Michael S. Lawson

City Attorney, City of East Palo Alto


Televised Forum

  • Media Center, channel 30 Friday, October 22nd - 7 PM Sunday, October 24th - 3:30 PM Sunday, October 31st - 5:30 PM Monday, November 1st - 9:30 AM
  • Media Center, Channel 27 Wednesday, october 20th - 8:30 PM Thursday, October 21st - 11:30 AM Saturday, October 30th - 3:30 PM Monday, November 1st - 5 PM
Community Links went down the block to jog memories on what voting is really all about. "Not to Vote is Almost Treason to Us"
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Arguments For Measure R Arguments Against Measure R


Located in East Palo Alto, Romic processes hazardous materials. In this process, toxic and cancer causing chemicals are released into East Palo Alto's air and they contaminate East Palo Alto's water and ground. Romic makes a profit from handling these materials but the residents of East Palo Alto only get an increase in health risks.

The new Hazardous Business License Fee, Measure R, will add a considerable sum of money (estimated as between $1 - 2 million) to the City's coffers. This tax will help offset the potential damage to the quality of life to our families by allowing the City to increase other services to our residents, such as after school and youth development programs, programs for seniors, crime prevention and eradication programs, affordable housing programs.

This tax would apply to businesses such as Romic that process hazardous materials. The City of East Palo Alto is the only City within the County of San Mateo that houses a plant that processes and stores waste solvents, antifreeze, contaminated wastewater, paints and used oil filters. Approximately forty-five percent of its business is industrial solvents, which can be volatile, flammable, or dangerous in a variety of ways.

A VOTE FOR THE HAZARDOUS BUSINESS LICENSE FEE IS ONLY FAIR: if Romic and other hazardous waste businesses make a profit that results in an increase in risk to the health of our families, then they should compensate our residents for that risk in the form of a tax. Measure R will acknowledge the risks that residents face having businesses handling chemicals that are hazardous to people's health located in close proximity to their neighborhoods.


/s/ Donna Rutherford


/s/ David E. Woods


/s/ Patricia Foster

Council Member

/s/ Duane Bay

Council Member

/s/ Ruben Abrica

Former Council Member

Rebuttal to Arguments For
The question to ask the council members is "WHY they didn't act responsibly in the first place, rather than relying on smoke and irrors to balance the budget?"

East Palo Alto voters have a right to know. After all, whether Measure R passes or not, East Palo Alto's residents will be stuck with a two million dollar deficit.

Why? Measure R is poorly written, won't stand up to the simplest compliance test, and is unenforceable.

Look it up. Hazardous waste disposal facilities are landfills, pure and simple. But Romic, the intended target of the Council, isn't a landfill, it's a recycling facility. And to encourage recycling, the state exempted recylcing facilities from taxation.

Even if the voters pass this measure, all that will happen is to introduce the term landfill as a new use category for the purposes of taxation. The only problem, there are NO landfills in East Palo Alto. No waste is ever stored permanently at Romic and the materials involved are recycled there and then sent away from the town.

Council members know that the language in the ballot measure is what the law will recognize and it defines the tax as applying to "hazardous waste disposal" facilities, not recycling operations. So, why play games with us?

Do the incumbents have any idea what they actually signed? Do they care? If it passes, it's your tax dollars that will be used to defend this flawed measure, not yours. Vote "no" on Measure R and save yourself the cost of defending it.

/s/ William Morton

The current City Council members are playing games with East Palo Alto voters.

Rather than making the difficult choices required to balance the City's budget, the incumbent City Council, the City Manager and the Finance Director are trying to hide a $2 million election year deficit so voters don't realize the council members seeking reelection have messed up the City budget.

Passing this 12,000 percent tax increase will not balance the City's budget. In fact, passing this tax increase only will result in the City spending more money in court trying to defend yet another poorly worded tax that violates state law.

Though the specific state law was presented during City Council meetings, the council repeatedly ignored the State Law that exempts taxing recycled hazardous waste, under the State Health and Safety Code section 25173.5(b)(2).

State law says "A city or county shall not impose a tax or a user fee adopted pursuant to subdivison (a) upon any of the following:
(1) an existing hazardous waste facility for which a tax is authorized pursuant to Section 25149.5.
(2) That portion of the gross receipts of the hazardous waste facility that derives from the recycling of hazardous wastes."

You can review this state law test on the California Government website by typing into your computer internet browser, and reviewing the Health and Safety Code.

The City lost the Cole case. The City lost the Utility Tax case. And, the City has no grounds to believe passing this tax will balance the budget. It's a loser. Vote no and save our city budget from thousands of throwaway dollars spent on legal fees to defend another bad decision that will be overturned in court.

And, call the City Council members to ask them where they plan to get $2 million to balance the budget.

/s/ William Morton, Sr.

Rebuttal to Arguments Against
East Palo Alto's health is worth the fight!

Romic handles and processes dangerous chemicals and substances. Many chemicals and substances have not been fully tested to measure their impact on humans and the environment. Romic has released dangerous and cancer-causing chemicals into the air we breathe including DICHLOROMETHANE. Romic has also released ferri-cynide and nitrosodimethalyne numerous times into our sewage system. Romic has had two small fires and willfully endangered one of its workers who is now permanently brain damaged as a result. East Palo Alto residents suffer the consequences for their mess-ups.

One recent survey has shown the residents of East Palo Alto have significantly higher cancer rates than residents of San Mateo County; also, 16.6% of the people in East Palo Alto have asthma compared to 6.7% of people in San Mateo County. Because Romic does not have an Environmental Impact Report, we have no idea exactly how they affect our community. But we do know that the substances they work with are dangerous to our health. And we do know there are a large number of residents with cancer, children with asthma, and people in East Palo Alto who are sick. Romic's operations could very well be part of the cause for these conditions.

Romic impacts our community's health more significantly than any other business in East Palo Alto. Measure R would not fix the health issues in East Palo Alto, but it's a step to make sure our community is compensated.

Vote YES on Measure R!

/s/ Isabel A. Loya

/s/ Re'Anita Burns

/s/ Lourdes Best

/s/ Cindy Martinez

/s/ Melvin Gaines

Full Text of Measure R

Subject to the approval of the electorate, the City Council of the City of East Palo Alto does hereby resolve as follows:

1. The City's business fee schedule, as authorized by Title 5 of the East Palo Alto Municipal Code, is hereby modified to create a new business type, 'N. Hazardous Waste Disposal Facilities', on which there is hereby imposed a tax of 10% on all gross receipts generated by each such facility. Licensees paying over $1,000 per calendar year in utility users taxes are entitled to a credit of utility users taxes over $1,000 but not more than $10,000 towards the business license fee/tax in Category N.

2. 'Category N' includes, and shall apply to, every person, business, company or corporation operating an offsite, multi-user hazardous waste treatment facility located within the City of East Palo Alto. Each such facility shall pay said 10% tax on annual gross receipts for the treatment, storage, recycling or dispoal of hazardous waste at the facility. The tax set forth in this Resolution shall be collected by the methods set forth in the East Palo Alto Municipal Code.

3. There is hereby submitted to the voters of the City of East Palo Alto the following question:

3. There is hereby submitted to the voters of the City of East Palo Alto the following question:

"Shall East Palo Alto's business license tax regulations be amended to create a new category for hazardous waste disposal facilities, and to impose thereon a 10% gross receipts tax, which shall be used for general governmental purposes such as public safety, parks and recreation, street maintenance, senior citizen programs, and central administration; and shall expenditure limitations be modified to permit East Palo Alto to spend such revenues?"

YES _______ NO ______

4. Expenditure limitations imposed by California Constitution Article XIIIB ("Gunn Initiative") are hereby modified to allow the City of East Palo Alto to appropriate and expend such revenues associated with such hazardous waste facility business license taxes.

5. This Resolution, being for the enactment and imposition of a general tax, shall be submitted to a vote of the people at the general municipal election scheduled for November 2, 2004. This Resolution shall become valid and binding if a majority of the voters voting thereon vote in its favor at said election and the results thereof are certified by the City Council.

6. City Council hereby finds and determines the proposed Resolution, being for the enactment and imposition of a general tax, is not a "project" under the California Environmental Quality Act, (CEQA), Section 15378(b)(4) of the CEQA Guidelines, in that a "project" does not include the creation of government funding mechanisms or other government fiscal activities which do not involve any commitment to any specific project which may result in a potentially significant physical impact to the environment, and therefore it is not subject to environmental review under CEQA. In the alternative, the City Council finds and determines that even if this proposed Resolution were a "project", it would be categorically exempt pursuant to the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA), Section 15273 of the CEQA Guidelines, in that CEQA does not apply to the establishment, modification, structuring, re-structuring, for approval of rates, tolls, fares, and other charges by public agencies which the public agency finds are for the purpose of: (1) meeting operating expenses; (2) purchasing supplies; (3) meeting financial reserve needs; and (4) obtaining funds for capital projects.

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Created: December 15, 2004 13:37 PST
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